Moors above the Holme and Colne Valleys, West Yorkshire by Richard Peace

Moors above the Holme and Colne Valleys, West Yorkshire by Richard Peace

Richard Peace

E-bike expert and cycling author Richard Peace reveals a route around an area that was the backdrop for 'Last of the Summer Wine' filming and — as well as its obvious charm — appropriately offers the opportunity to visit a spectacularly located vineyard.  

We start at Holmfirth as it’s a favourite spot for local and visitors, with its attractive centre backed by steep hills and many cobbled streets. It also gives access to the lovely track over Cartworth Moor. This ride is a lovely combination of sweeping moorland vistas and homely Yorkshire mill towns.

After steep gradients out of Holmfirth and across the Holme valley at Holme you pick up a wild-feeling track above Digley Reservoir, which hairpins back to the A635 (take care here as you use a short section of the main road). The descent down the Wessenden Valley is a freewheeling glory as the track has been much improved with drainage works and stone setts, meaning you can sit back and enjoy the glorious scenery for much of the way.

At Marsden you can briefly head west on the canal towpath to visit the entrance to the Standedge Tunnel — the deepest, longest canal tunnel in the country — and take a cafe break and look in the visitor centre. Heading back east on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath, be careful as this can be badly eroded and with short steep drops at locks, before arriving at attractive Slaithwaite.

Between Slaithwaite and Meltham the roads and tracks are much easier and though the gradients are still challenging, you are crossing much lower moorland. A final testing off-road climb out of Meltham heralds a minor road return to Holmfirth, cruising above the Holme Valley.


Use a mountain bike with low gearing. Full suspension is not vital — though it will be more comfortable and make for easier riding — as we use mainly reasonable quality tracks here. It’s more a combination of some very, very steep climbs and the length that present the main physical challenge. 

Bring clothing suited to a change in weather to cooler or windier on the moorland. Also bring plenty to drink — it’s a physically challenging route with remote sections.

Lots of choice for refreshments in Holmfirth, Marsden and Slaithwaite. Just out Holmfirth you pass the remarkable Holmfirth Vineyard with its beautifully located cafe and restaurant. 

Level of ride 
Type of bike 
Mountain bike